Claire Robinson

Claire spent eighteen years with the business before leaving to embark on a new journey. She’s now come full circle, taking on a new role with exciting challenges ahead, re-connecting with our internal people networks and embracing her true self. 

How would you describe the apprenticeship programme to others? What attracted you to BT Group and the apprenticeship programme?

My first six months in the business flew by, as a new joiner to BT Group there is a lot to learn and lots of different units and acronyms to get your head around. My first few weeks were spent meeting colleagues, largely virtually and then I attended the corporate induction. Everyone I have interacted with so far has been extremely helpful and incredibly supportive, there is lots of opportunity to join networks and take part in on site events. 

You joined the business as an apprentice, what was your experience like?

I joined BT Group in 2003 as an Advance Modern Apprentice. I spent the first two years working with our field staff installing and maintaining small/medium sized customers phone systems. I really enjoyed working with the field force and visiting different customers regularly. In parallel to the field work I was also attending college and working towards an IT practitioner’s qualification. 

In year three of my apprenticeship, I was put into my final placement. I was given responsibility for a data centre suite; my role was to take equipment from its box to be ready for live services. I handled all sorts of cutting-edge server/network/storage equipment and took immense satisfaction and pride in installing, cable managing and commissioning them before handing them over to the team to take customer traffic. I established a lot of good working relationships during this time, many of which are still very much present today.  

You decided to leave the company in 2021 to explore a different career path, what made you come back? 

The decision to leave the business was not an easy one to make, having worked with BT Group for eighteen years I knew my way around the systems and had lots of very friendly and helpful contacts, but I wanted to try my hand at something a little different. The role I took promised to have me remain technical, which it did, however, it was hands off practical. The support I received was not on par with what I was accustom too and a sense of team/belonging was lacking. 

An opportunity to return to BT Group presented itself, into a different area than before, but an area of interest, innovation, and some exciting challenges to allow me to develop. I also knew that the support networks, people and working styles in the business suited my lifestyle needs – now eighteen months back, I can say it was the right decision.  

Having worked across our different business units what are some of the key things you have learnt?

The areas I have worked across have always been technically complex and on a large scale. My focus has always been on infrastructure delivery and operations for our internal technology offerings. I’ve worked on our Citrix platform, our 60,000+ virtual server VMware Platform (Enterprise Cloud), and currently on our Network Cloud platform. 

In each of these roles there is always a common theme:

  • Start by breaking down something complex into its component parts. 
  • Tackle each part individually, understand it, verify it, and document it. 
  • If a task is done more than once, automate it and make it available to others.  
  • When your knowledge runs out, be curious and work with others to find a resolve and better understand it – working as a team has huge benefits. 
  • Sharing your knowledge with others is really rewarding and beneficial to not only yourself, but other individuals and the team/business.   

What can you tell us about your job role now and the different projects you are involved in?

At present I’m working on our Network Cloud platform. This platform forms the backbone infrastructure that underpins many of our products, mainly our (EE) mobile platform and BT broadband. 

My specific role is focused on the automation of tasks within Network Cloud. Taking a DevOps approach to everything we do. We have created a deployment pipeline that builds our new sites for us automatically. As Network Cloud expands, we need to ensure consistency and speedy deployments of our new sites. The automation we have created has reduced our “logical build” time from a minimum 3-week manual effort to 5 days, with guaranteed consistency and all driven automatically. 

I’ve also been redesigning and creating the processes our teams use to carry out their work. I’ve developed a new workstack system and full suite of webpages that all integrate with automation to make our tasks flow easily whilst being very accessible to all.  

What can you tell us about BT Group’s people networks?

BT has some great people networks that are just waiting for people to get involved with. Mostly run via workplace (Facebook for work) it’s a great place to find colleagues that form part of your community and/or are allies to your community. 

These networks sometime leave the virtual world to become in-real-life events and meet ups, and with such a diverse collection of people, they are a great way to meet and network with people outside of your immediate line of business.  
I’ve met some truly wonderful people via these networks who are inspiring and supportive at the same time. 

Everyone is free to contribute to the networks and in fact are encouraged to do so.   

What would you say our approach to diversity and inclusion is like in the business and how has this personally impacted your journey? 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is really important to me. BT has strong DE&I values and there are lots of activities across the business to help promote an inclusive environment. I have seen visibility of this and the businesses attitude toward this improve vastly over the years. There is always work to be done in this space, but I do genuinely see the passion and pride that BT Group and its people have for this.

Personally, as a transgender woman (who transitioned whilst in post), I’ve had nothing but support from both my immediate colleagues and my wider HR partners. 

I did identify some improvements along my journey, and those involved were more than happy to take that feedback and work with me to bring about change, not just for me, but any others that follow. 

There is as ever room for improvement, and I see these improvements year on year. 

You do have a voice here, and you can influence change and make a great place to work be even greater. 

I do truly believe that you can bring your true authentic self and flourish in this environment.   

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